Zach LaVine signed a five-year extension with the Bulls this summer. Now he’s not happy.
According to a report from Shams Charania, the Bulls have had “multiple team meetings” to work out the problems between LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. The organization is worried about the partnership between the two All-Star wings, despite LaVine having signed a five-year contract for $215 million before the season.
The tension came to a head Sunday in Minnesota, where the players had a loud disagreement in the locker room.
Joe Cowley wrote that the disagreement stemmed from “the constant defensive breakdowns during the previous five games and in that first half against the undermanned T-Wolves.” Which is different from LaVine’s contention that the Bulls’ issues come from having two number-one options.
“We have those type of guys, those type of mentalities where each of us have been number-one options on a team before and then we all come together collectively,” LaVine told The Athletic. “It’s not going to take one person. It’s going to take all of us as a unit.”
The disconnect might come from the source of the report. Shams Charania is the reporter of choice for clients of Klutch Sports, a group which includes LaVine and himself. LaVine is the only Bulls player interviewed for the piece, while DeRozan’s quotes come from a year earlier. The article quotes a source detailing “increased skepticism within the locker room about the head coach and the coaching staff.” Shouldn’t we assume that’s LaVine’s own skepticism?
Chicago has had problems due to the lingering knee problems of Lonzo Ball and LaVine’s own recovery from offseason knee surgery. He hasn’t been the same player, with his scoring, shooting and passing numbers all down. LaVine also clashed with head coach Billy Donovan, who upset his star by benching him down the stretch a month ago.
It’s early for LaVine’s relationship with the team to sour, especially 30 games into a new $215 million contract. Perhaps he’s trying to get the Bulls to trade DeRozan, who is signed through next season. But for his part, LaVine denies being Charania’s source.
It’s hard to imagine who else it would come from, but either way, the Bulls are in a bad place with their max player.